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Southern California Deserts by RV Rental

Self-Drive Vacation to California’s Parks & Wilderness Areas

The birthplace of the iconic Airstream travel trailers, California is one of the world’s greatest road tripping destinations. This enormous state basically has it all. From world-class beaches to rugged coastlines, from small-town life to the glitz and glamor of L.A., from the redwood forests in the north to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the deserts in the south, California is one of the most varied places on earth. It just begs to be explored with an RV—a recreational vehicle.

You can pick up a rental RV in all major cities in southern California. That includes Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. This gives you the freedom to explore the epic deserts in the southern part of the state at your own pace.

Southern California Deserts, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Deserts of Southern California

Many people associate California with beaches, Hollywood and celebrities, but the state is so much more than that. The entire southeastern part of the state consists of deserts. The Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert (which is part of the much larger Sonoran Desert that extends south into Mexico) are the two deserts in California

This region is filled with awesome parks—state and national—which are all worth visiting. Three of them, however, stand out from the rest for various reasons. They are the following. All three are excellent places to explore with an RV, home to well-maintained roads and well-equipped campgrounds.

Southern California Deserts, Death Valley

Death Valley National Park

As the hottest and driest place in North America, Death Valley National Park is not to be underestimated. The best time of year to visit this epic national park is spring. This is when cool mornings allow for scenic hiking, when previous winter rainfall results in colorful displays of wildflowers.

Death Valley is home to Badwater Basin, the lowest point on the North American continent, which is a major attraction. Other highlights include the views from Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View, and the impressive Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

There are several campgrounds scattered throughout the park. Note, however, that many of those are basic and don’t have any RV facilities. The best campgrounds for RV travel are at Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, two tourist villages that are ideal bases from which to explore this enormous valley.

Southern California Deserts, Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Named after the tall and spiny yucca “trees”—they’re technically not trees—, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the greatest destinations in California. This amazing park is filled with superb hiking trails, rock climbing sites and mountain biking paths.
Many campgrounds provide spots to park your RV, some of which set beautifully amid the huge boulders that characterize the park’s landscapes. A very popular campground is Jumbo Rocks Campground, situated in the center of the park and offering easy access to all its highlights.

Southern California Deserts, Highway to Borrego Springs

Anza-Borrego Desert

Less-known than the two parks above, this state park is absolutely, totally and entirely worth visiting. The one time of year you’ll want to drive your RV down to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is spring. This is when the desert floor is carpeted with millions upon millions of wildflowers. It’s a spectacular sight

March is the high season in this area, a time when thousands of tourists flood the otherwise-quiet desert town of Borrego Springs. Book your campsite way in advance; things are guaranteed to be fully booked this time of year.

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